Speaking in advance of a vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, on a resolution on the ‘Progress on equality between women and men in the EU’, the Dublin Independent MEP, Nessa Childers, said Ireland has one of the poorest records on providing childcare.
“Equality between women and men in Ireland is dependent on a number of issues, but we will never see true equality and combat poverty unless Irish parents have access to high-quality, affordable childcare.
“To be affordable and accessible childcare has to be subsidised, and in Ireland childcare is simply not working for parents or staff. This is both an equality and an anti-poverty issue, and must be tackled as a priority. In Ireland childcare takes up 35% of a family’s income, for lower income families it’s 40%. Yet staff are usually on the minimum wage and have no job security.
“The news that Minister Reilly is establishing an interdepartmental working group on Childcare is welcome. Children benefit so much from early education, that this is a children’s rights issue also.
Repeal the 8th amendment
MEPs will also vote today on recognising a woman’s right to abortion and contraception, and in this regard Nessa Childers said she fully supported the campaign to repeal the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution.
“This amendment has been proven to be a complete breach of women’s human rights in Ireland. We have a duty to look at how we treat pregnant women and their right to a safe pregnancy and childbirth, but also to be able to choose not proceed with a pregnancy when their health is at risk, or in the case of a fatal foetal abnormality.
Finally Ms Childers welcomed the Parliament’s focus on education for its International Women’s Day priority, but castigated National Governments over their refusal to ensure that there was gender balance in the European Commission.
“Only nine out of the 29 commissioners are women and this is a blatant example of lack of equality. The institutions should start by giving the example.